Besides parents, the campaign should target pediatricians, Caruthers said. A national study indicated that 40 percent of pediatricians were uncomfortable bringing up obesity to the parents of their patients, he said.
Caruthers recommends the state consider doing a cost analysis of implementing the one-tenth of a penny per ounce tax.
The tax should have a five-year sunset and results should be reviewed after that time, he said.
"If we can't show results in five years, we don't deserve the money after five years," he said. "It's that simple."
By 2030, if nothing changes, West Virginia's obesity rate will be 60 percent and obesity care will be at least a third of the state's total health-care expenditures, he said.
Also at Friday's obesity conference, the group KEYS 4 HealthyKids announced that it will add nine new "communities," or agencies, to its network that aims to address the obesity epidemic with policy and environmental changes.
Those communities are the cities of Richwood and Ripley; the Regional Education Service Agency 1 in Beckley; Clay Elementary; Clay County Schools; Hamlin Elementary; Build it Up, a summer program where young people work with organizations that are making community sustainability projects; the Raleigh County Community Council; and Step by Step, a nonprofit group that aims to help families who are facing poverty.
KEYS 4 HealthyKids, supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is a partnership of local business, education, social services and health agencies that aims to reduce the rates of childhood obesity with policy and environmental changes.
The communities will receive a toolkit, technical support and a mentor.
"I am very excited to be able to work with these nine new communities to change where they live, learn, work and play, so that children can grow up in an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle," Dr, Jamie Jeffrey, a pediatrician and the KEYS 4 HealthyKids' director, said in a prepared statement. "The community where a child grows up has a tremendous impact on their risk of developing obesity."
The annual obesity conference is sponsored by Charleston Area Medical Center, the CAMC Institute, the CAMC Weight Loss Center, KEYS 4 HealthyKids and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.